He turned away from the window and his preoccupation with all that’s unknown and unknowable. His dedication to a profession rooted in reliable rules and procedures had been severely challenged by the doctor’s ghastly experiment. He settled into a large, comfortable chair before the hearth with, at a nicely calculated distance from the fire, a bottle of a particular old wine that had long dwelt unsunned in the foundations of his house. Who can really discern another’s motives, he wondered, and how is it we so quickly invent them when we have no evidence available? The fog still slept on the wing above the drowned city, where the lamps glimmered like carbuncles; and as usual he found no answers, though he deeply desired to see through the mist. Perhaps not all effects have causes, he thought, and some doubts need not be resolved, and through the muffle and smother of these fallen clouds, the procession of the town’s life was still rolling in through the great arteries with a sound as of a mighty wind. He raised his glass, resigned to replace one murk with another. In the bottle the acids were long ago resolved; the imperial dye had softened with time, as the colour grows richer in stained windows; he let all the unanswered questions dissolve and fixed his attention instead on the hearth, and so his mind, like the glow of hot autumn afternoons on hillside vineyards, was ready to be set free and to disperse the fogs of London.
Copyright 2021 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by R Spegel at unsplash.com
Author’s Note: The italicized passages were taken from one paragraph in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.